Over the course of 2006 Matt sent letters to everyone, Tony Stewart, Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress, Jack Roush, and even the King, Richard Petty. None answered.
Out of the blue, however, Truck Series owner Chris Lafferty did call. He'd gotten wind of this old man who thought he could drive, and decided to take a chance on him. Matt's first thought when he got that phone call was "Holy Sh*t! This is it!" On February 3rd, 2007, Matt Poole tested in a Craftsman Series Truck for the first time at Hickory Raceway for Chris Lafferty and, of course, he aced it. Chris wanted him to keep on testing, in the different cars, Street Stocks and Late Models, and with every test, Matt's times improved.
Back home, his friends and family, who had discouraged, teased, ridiculed and lamented were suddenly quiet. For a bit, anyway, then they were yelling, texting, shouting from the rooftops, all in support.
By July of 2007, Chris figured Matt was ready and entered him into a Street Stock race at Hickory, in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Matt qualified the car in 10th and finished the race in 12th, impressive for any driver's first race in any car, let alone a driver in his 40's. His mom and Tonya rode with him in that race, he had their pictures taped to the dash, so he could see them and remember he was doing this to honor their memories. The other drivers in the race, although some of a similar age, had been racing for years. And Matt had achieved his goal for the race:
"Don't wreck yourself, don't wreck anybody else, and don't finish last."
After that first race, Matt decided to pack up and move from Maryland to North Carolina, where he could be closer to the action. Almost a year went by, however, before he would be able to race again. In May 2008, Matt got his second start, again at the local track and again in a Street Stock car. He improved on his previous race, qualifying in 9th and finishing 7th. He says
"I'm not doing it for fame, money, or pit lizards, I just want to race pure and simple. I wish I was"
This year, it was unclear if his local track would even have a racing season, the economy is hurting so bad. They are persevering and the races will happen. Matt's desire hasn't changed. He continues to pound the pavement, send letters and make phone calls. He runs a small website business, mostly for his own websites (crossbowmotorsports.com and mattpooleracing.com), as he pursues his dream. Through it all, his determination to race remains stronger than ever. His desire isn't to become the "Next Best Thing". He simply wants to drive a race car, to experience the euphoria of being behind the wheel, honoring his mom and his friend Tonya, taken from this world too soon. As part of his honor to them, Matt donates all his winnings to the Victory Junction Gang Camp and the American Heart Association. He's a simple man, with simple needs. A man who just wants to drive. When we asked him how he wanted to be known, he said:
"I'm just a simple Maryland boy, I dont want to be a legend, or an icon, or anything else, I just wanna be a race car driver, pure and simple"